St Andrews blows its own trumpet

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Credit: Gayle Cook

The University of St Andrews has become the first in Scotland to offer a residency to a professional orchestra.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has accepted an invitation to become Orchestra in Residence at St Andrews in a move which will herald a new concert season, expand music education in Scotland and lead to professional links with the country’s young musicians.

SCO musicians are expected to hold master-classes in St Andrews for schoolchildren, students and aspiring musical talents.

Welcoming the creation of the residency, Dr Louise Richardson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, commented:

“This is an enormously exciting development for music in St Andrews and Scotland, which will not only allow us to build on our existing strengths, but further enhance our longstanding relationship with one of the country’s finest orchestras.

“I am delighted that St Andrews will be the first university in Scotland and among the first in the UK to be able to boast of an Orchestra in Residence.”

As well as an established five-concert season at the Younger Hall, St Andrews, the Orchestra and University will work together to:

  • provide a series of pre-concert talks: in the coming season these will include an interview with the Orchestra’s new Principal Conductor, Robin Ticciati, and a talk on Ligeti’s Piano Concerto by Michael Downes
  • provide instrumental teaching for students by SCO players
  • introduce a series of masterclasses by SCO players
  • co-ordinate an annual teachers’ reception to develop relationships with local schools
  • develop the Applaud scheme, giving University students practical experience of arts marketing and orchestra and event management
  • offer internships or work experience opportunities for students with SCO
  • develop alumni relations through SCO events
  • work together to develop music education for the community, including building relationships with local schools and contributing to the Music Centre¿s new initiatives for primary-school age children.

Roy McEwan, Managing Director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, said: “Through its successful annual concert season at the Younger Hall, the SCO has enjoyed a strong relationship with the town and people of St Andrews and with its University for many years.  We are delighted to take this to a new level through this residency, with a view to extending our relationship through collaboration.  This development further extends the SCO’s good relations with the Kingdom of Fife – as well as its activities in St Andrews, the Orchestra works closely with AttFife and has been the major performing contributor to the East Neuk Festival since its inception.”

Dr Michael Downes, Director of Music at the University of St Andrews, commented: “Concert-goers in St Andrews are already enormously privileged to have one of the UK’s best orchestras visiting on such a regular basis, but this residency will bring many new opportunities both to those who attend concerts in the Younger Hall and to those who make music in the Music Centre. We intend that the relationship will flourish in new ways as music-making in the University itself expands and develops. I look forward to many of our best performers benefiting from the guidance of SCO players in the coming years, and to hearing music by our composers realised by groups from within the Orchestra. These will be potentially life-changing experiences for our students.”

The new residency will get off to an auspicious start at 1.15 on Wednesday 7 October, when the SCO’s new Principal Horn, Alec Frank-Gemmill, opens the University’s lunchtime concert series with a recital of music by Saint-Saens, Richard Strauss and Françaix.  Following the recital, Alec will lead a masterclass for St Andrews’ students and coach a group of primary-school age French horn players who have begun the instrument in the last year under the tuition of Margaret Douglass.

Michael Downes commented; “They are a very enthusiastic group and I¿m sure that they will be absolutely inspired by hearing Alec play. This is an example of the benefits the residency will bring to the wider community in St Andrews, not just University students.”

The Opening Concert of the SCO’s St Andrews season on Wednesday 14 October sees the Orchestra’s Conductor Emeritus Joseph Swensen, himself an Honorary Graduate of the University, conduct Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 and Sibelius’s Violin Concerto.




Dr Michael Downes is available for interview on 01334 462226


Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Niall Scott, Director of Corporate Communications on 01334 462244 / 462529, Email:
[email protected]
Ref: SCO 290909
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